Employee engagement trends need to be clearly understood if HR professionals want success in managing the current workforce.
The year 2022 brings a renewed outlook on the world of business. While businesses learn to tackle the new landscape and create bolder and more innovative strategies to stay competitive, there is a burning need to ground these strategies to the human element.
2021 was the year of recovery, and this year is predicted to be the year of growth. While businesses should focus on their growth, they need to ensure their strategies revolve around keeping their employees engaged. After all, a business cannot grow without its employees.
Here are the Top 10 Employee Engagement Trends for 2022
1. An Inclusive and Diverse Workplace
Employee engagement trends point to the need for a more inclusive and diverse workplace. The Brandon Hall Group recently published a study indicating that 88% of workplaces feel that diversity and inclusion are vital business drivers.
This means having a group of employees from varying backgrounds with a range of differences. This can be age, gender, race, or culture too. Inclusion refers to ensuring that your employees have a sense of strong belonging to the organization.
How do you create a more diverse and inclusive workplace?
First, understand where you stand. Use data available with you and ask your employees their opinion on the diversity and inclusion levels in their workplace. This information gives you a starting point.
Think about where you are recruiting. Your recruiting source channels may want to include a more diverse geographical location. It is advisable to remove age parameters when looking for great talent. Remember, you need top quality, which may mean looking in different places.
Consider creating teams of varying ages and educational and cultural backgrounds.
2. Put the Human back in HR
Humans are the center of the HR world; they are also the foundation of any successful business. HR departments and businesses as a whole are putting more emphasis on putting people first. Mega organizations renowned for their success have switched to more people-centric measures. Among them are American Express and Hilton.
Here are a few tips to ensure you are putting people first:
- Give your employees the tools and the authority to own their roles and become leaders
- Listen to what your employees say and implement their feedback as soon as possible
- Focus your recruiting strategies on the human aspect of HR
- Ensure your company values are carried out every day
3. Employees as the Voice of the Brand
Employee branding has become a vital part of business strategy today. Getting the exemplary ambassadors to back your name up can be tricky. A great strategy is to leverage your employees’ voices.
Give your employees a platform and the freedom to talk about how it feels to work for you. Let them share their experiences and their learnings.
Here are great ways to give your employees a platform:
- Start an employee social media page
- Add employee testimonials to your career page
How do you make sure employees are great brand ambassadors?
- Communicate business goals, current growth, and other relevant information to employees regularly.
- Make sure the work environment is one that employees are happy with.
- Educate your employees on your company values and culture.
4. Improved Feedback Structures and Implementation
Feedback has always been an important function of HR. Now more than ever, companies are scrambling to understand exactly what employees want.
It is essential to collect and provide feedback from and to employees consistently. However, collecting feedback is only part of the solution. You have to show employees that you are truly listening to them.
Show them by implementing their feedback whenever possible. You may not be able to implement every piece of feedback, but you can implement ones that make sense. If an employee or group of employees comes up with a great idea to improve employee engagement, make sure you give them credit for its success.
When employees feel that they are being listened to, they become more engaged in their roles.
5. Promoting Health and Wellness at the Workplace
Organizations around the world have realized the value of health and wellness. And, so have employees. Organizations looking to understand employee engagement trends have to understand the value of investing in great health and wellness plans for their employees.
The past couple of years has been tumultuous and chaotic, to say the least. Employees have been under immense financial and mental stress. Take the steps you need to as an organization to show your employees that you care for their health and mental wellbeing.
Give them subsidized health plans, access to better insurance plans that cover family members, and give them access to good mental health care.
Conduct regular activities that bring awareness about mental wellbeing, and encourage employees to reach out more.
6. Value and Recognize Employees
Employee engagement trends for 2022 also show that businesses are investing more in recognizing and rewarding employees for their efforts.
A study by SHRM shows that employee retention improved by 68% when employees were appropriately recognized.
Employee recognition makes employees feel more valued, furthers employee engagement, and speaks volumes of an organization’s culture. This news spreading can help attract the right kind of talent.
Rewarding employees for their positive contributions and actions also helps ensure that everyone else in the organization recognizes the behavior rewarded and assimilates it.
Another survey showed that 58% of professionals believe that recognition improves employee engagement.
7. Invest in Employee Growth and Development
Another one of the top employee engagement trends is that companies invest in strengthening employee development and growth programs.
Organizations are demanding more from their employees. To meet that demand, employees need to learn new skills and become more capable. It is difficult for employees to find time outside work to get certified or participate in a course.
Companies need to factor this into their employee engagement programs.
Find ways to give employees access to online courses, such as Coursera, Udemy, or LinkedIn Learning. You could incentivize learning by giving employees rewards or bonuses for certifications they complete. You could go as far as to pay for employees’ courses; after all, the more skilled and educated your workforce is, the more benefit there is for the company.
It also helps to hear from industry experts about what they should learn and what areas are likely to need more focus in the coming years.
Employee growth plans are also vital to ensure that employees are engaged. They need to know what their careers will look like down the line. Start a mentorship program where employees are groomed for their next roles.
HR professionals can meet with employees regularly to discuss their growth plans and help them take steps to achieve their career goals.
When employees see that a company is invested in their learning and is interested in their career, they are likely to stay longer because they feel more engaged.
8. Work-life Balance
Work-life balance seminars were a rage in the early 2000s. With the events that have unfolded recently and the immense pressure of switching from onsite to remote work, employees need to realign themselves.
Employees often have no choice but to work from home, sometimes for extended periods. Management and HR departments have to come into the picture to ensure that employees maintain a healthy work-life balance.
An employee engagement trend that is clearly on the upward swing is the increase of work flexibility. The strategies for work flexibility differ from organization to organization, depending on the type of work required.
Companies could try one of the following strategies or use a combination:
- Flexible work hours
- Hybrid work
- Target based Work
- Extra paid Leaves
Flexible work options have been so effective that 75% of workers claim that they are more productive when they work from home.
9. Re-evaluating Management Strategies
A significant trend that was seen shortly after the first COVID-19 wave, when employees were asked to return to the office, was that many felt they no longer needed their managers to be as involved as before.
Employees managed themselves quite effectively when they were out of the office, and most of them wanted that to continue.
Despite many employees returning to onsite work, they still feel that they are being micromanaged. This level of micromanagement tends to hinder productivity. Managers need to look at new management strategies.
These strategies could be:
- Ensuring your employees and managers work together to make decisions
- Treat all members of the team equally
- Foster improved collaboration
- Encourage dialogue
- Let employees coach each other, rather than only managers coaching employees
10. Tech Integration at Every Level (Cloud, AI, ML)
Integrating technology with every aspect of HR is vital. In terms of employee engagement trends, more HR departments are using machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud technology to ensure that employees are more engaged.
In the last few years, we have seen organizations adopt new technology to combat work from home inefficiency and improve the entire HR process. This trend is set to continue well into 2022 and beyond.
Employee engagement can be vastly boosted using technology with measures such as real-time appreciation. AI can be used to congratulate employees on achieving targets or personal milestones. HR departments don’t have to worry about getting dates right and keeping track of every employee's data. Technology can do that for them.
Performance management is another area where technology can be leveraged. Tracking employee metrics, informing them and the HR department of their status, and even recommending strategies to improve performance can all be done with the help of technology.
Using technology to collate accurate people analytics and run comprehensive reports can give HR departments insights into how they can improve their employee engagement strategies as well as measure current strategy effectiveness.
Another way to improve employee engagement is to increase inter-department collaboration. With the right tech, departments can ensure that they can communicate frequently and seamlessly, ensuring that there is no break in communication and that they are constantly working towards the same goals.
Online training and development, as mentioned earlier, are a vital part of ensuring employees stay engaged. More companies are using technology, using virtual learning and remote learning.
On-the-spot appreciation using internal social media is another excellent way of showing all your employees what kind of behavior is rewarded and what type of culture you want to nurture.
The year ahead is full of promises - of growth in business and innovation in technology. The employee engagement trends that are being seen are likely to continue well past the year 2022.
HR professionals have to be ready to learn new skills and understand new ways of keeping employees engaged. Having said that, it is equally important that HR professionals refocus their energy on the human resources they manage and go back to simpler, more direct methods of engagement.
Combining technology with more traditional employee engagement models will be the formula for success that HR professionals are looking for.
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